Tuesday, August 04, 2009

We're not a racist but......

Yesterday the UK government announced that it was introducing new rules concerning who is entitled to citizenship. Previously, in order to get a British passport you needed to prove that you had been living in the country for at at least three years, knew English and did not have a criminal record.

Now the new regulations (taken from the Guardian), which come into force in 2011 state that;

Minimum requirements: English language, knowledge of British life, can support themselves without benefits, no prison record.

Extra points for: earning potential, special artistic or scientific talent, qualifications, shortage skills, better English, living in area of population decline, eg Scotland.

Points deducted for: failure to integrate, active disregard for UK values.

Voluntary work, including canvassing for political parties, could accelerate citizenship application.

New pre-entry language test for foreign partners coming to marry.

New two-stage knowledge of the UK citizenship test.

Of course, none of this applies to half a billion (mainly white) citizens of the Europe Union, who can happily stay in Britain without the faintest idea which party runs the country, 1066 and who is who in Eastenders. Like the Brits abroad in Costa Del Sol or Provence they are not penalised for "a failure to integrate" or showing an "active disregard for UK values". Nor are they required to bother with learning any more of the language than is needed to order another round.

No, these requirements are for rest of the mainly non-white world whose values or common sense cannot be trusted. These rules are for "blacks" and "coloureds" as they were termed under South African Apartheid. "Europeans" (i.e whites) need not bother with such matters as their skin colour is proof enough of the fact that they are "civilised" and so can be trusted to behave properly in polite company.

I wonder if anyone has noticed the irony at the heart of this particular clause?

"Voluntary work, including canvassing for political parties, could accelerate citizenship application."

So you will be allowed to take part in getting a party elected but you won't be allowed to vote since voting rights are dependent on citizenship. Isn't this like inviting somebody to dinner but then refusing to serve them? On the other hand, as the Observer points out other forms of political participation such as taking part in anti-war demonstration means a possible loss of points.

Of course people seeking citizenship don't go on demos, their presence in their new country is so precarious they rarely take part in such actions, knowing that they risk far more than others there. No, this little clause is a sop to the Daily Mail reading lumpen middle class, outraged that soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan faced protests from British muslims.

The whole system stinks as it is a blatantly racist attempt by the Labour government to "get tough" on immigration. In the short term it achieves little other than headlines but the real damage comes from the way it legitimises other forms of racism, subtly endorsing prejudice, reinforcing ideas that far right groups like the BNP thrive on.


surfmadpig said...

No offense to your fellow countrymen, dude, but I've been living in the UK for a little less than a year now and I just can't see British people HAVING common sense. Does it feel like that for you too down there in Greece?

teacher dude said...

I wish I could say that you are wrong, but I think you have as point. The government both here and there seems to think the only way to beat the far right is to become just like them.

Theodosios said...

I would be so bad in a british citizenship test. I don't watch neither eastenders or coronation street and i don't have the faintest how much a pint of milk is.
How about you dude? do u know the price of milk in greece and the stars of the trashy news windows?

Sorry said...

You're right, these new rules show the Labour Party pandering to the influential and powerful middle class Mail reading lot.

teacher dude said...

Theodisio, full fat or skimmed?


surfmadpig said...

I'm not only talking about the government. It's the people, it's the companies, it's the government too. I was just thinking that perhaps "common sense" here possibly meant a totally different thing here than in Greece and vice versa. It probably is, or I'm looking at it the wrong way, since I know we Greeks seem pretty irrational too.